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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Scientists urge ban on cod catch

Once again scientists are urging an end to unsustainable fishing
A complete ban on North Sea cod fishing in 2007 is the main recommendation to European governments from their scientific advisors on fisheries.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) says stocks of cod, sandeel and anchovy remain below sustainable limits.

Ices has made the same recommendation on cod for the last four years, but ministers have gone against it.

The full report is released on Friday, with quotas decided in December.

The question remains when will politicians follow the scientific advice
Tom Pickerell, WWF-UK

It contains better news on some other species. Norwegian spring spawning herring is recovering, and Ices is recommending an increase of about 75% in its quota.

Smaller quota increases are recommended for mackerel and hake, while small reductions are urged for plaice, blue whiting and sole.

Recovery prevented

Martin Pastoors, chair of the Ices committee which reviewed the scientific data, said: "Unfortunately we have not seen clear signals of recovery for the depleted cod stocks.

"These stocks have a high growth potential, but the continued catches from these stocks in combination with very low recruitment (development of adult fish) have prevented a recovery."

Fish spawning grounds
Source: Cefas
European Fisheries commissioner Joe Borg welcomed "positive elements" in the report, but industry figures maintain a ban on cod fishing is unrealistic.

Mr Borg said long-term management plans, such as the plan already implemented for hake stocks to the west of Britain, Ireland and France, is the key to restoring depleted species.

"Today's news... shows that our long-term approach to the management of EU fisheries is starting to bear some fruit," he said.

"This should encourage us all to redouble our efforts to reverse the decline in our fisheries and to move gradually towards sustainable catches and a stable fishing sector."

Environment and conservation groups are urging EU ministers to accept the scientific advice when they meet in December.

"This is the fifth year in a row that their scientific advice recommends a zero catch of cod in the North Sea, west of Scotland, and Irish Sea," said Dr Tom Pickerell, fisheries policy officer with WWF-UK.

"The question remains when will politicians follow the scientific advice?"


Has the fish supper had its chips?
12 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
Trawlermen land cod plan inquiry
03 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Opinion divided over fish quotas
22 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Quarter of Irish sea cod 'illegal'
07 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Experts recommend cod catch ban
18 Oct 05 |  Scotland
North Sea 'needs joined-up thinking'
26 Sep 05 |  Science/Nature
Science at odds with fishing fleet
07 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature

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